Appearing in his collection "18 poems" published in 1934, "The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower," is one of the most popular and least obscure of the poems in the collection, illustrates both the language and the complex, powerful, but often confusing imagery. While it is easy to get caught up in the rhythm and drama of the language, it is far more difficult to unravel meaning. On its most basic level, however, the poem describes the cycle of life and death, noting that creation and destruction are part of the same process, both for man and for nature. Each stanza presents the flow of time moving to its inexorable conclusion.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind Hauls my shroud sail. And I am dumb to tell the hanging man How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head; Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood Shall calm her sores. And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
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May 8th, 2012
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